I've been training for the Mississippi Blues Marathon since August, and after yesterday's 18-mile run, I finally feel optimistic. I've had some good training runs and some bad, and one that started very well and suddenly went bad.
The 18-mile was my longest distance ever and it was easier than I expected. It was also the first time I've run with a partner and the first really long run since my friend KayVee began oversight of my training. I'm beginning to understand the importance of managing fuel and fluids and I'm improving my overall running skills.
Becky A., a well known and enthusiastic local triathlete and 2-time Ironman Finisher, is a little faster runner than I (everyone else is a lot faster). She runs the same roads and trails as I do and is on the same marathon training plan. She agreed to slow down and run a patient 18 miles with me yesterday. We were very pleased with ourselves after the run and will do the 20-mile run together also.
I've combined my training runs with some 5k races, simply adding the extra miles after the race. I improvised some run routes and ran one 5k four times, stopping after the second loop just long enough to collect a nice door prize. I ran a 15k one and half times, finishing just as the awards were all distributed.
Wifeunit and I made our annual trip to Ocean Springs on the Gulf Coast and the Peter Anderson Arts Festival 2 weeks ago, staying overnight with ML & Harry in Gautier. The festival was nice and the weather superb. Lots of doggies and interesting people were enjoying a great day.
The next morning I needed a 16-mile run, so Wifeunit left me at the Ocean Springs side of the Biloxi Bay Bridge with an eventual destination of Highway 49 in Gulfport. It was wonderful to run along the beach (on a sidewalk) and watch the sea birds and the guys surfing with the kites. Wifenunit met me every 3-4 miles with the water and power gels, and I did really well until finishing 14 miles. That's when I started getting cramps in my calves, my shoulders got weak as if they were tired of holding my arms up, and things began looking dark. I felt like I was beginning to go to sleep. Wifeunit was watching me from far ahead through binoculars, and said I would stagger a while, then try to walk straight, and stagger some more. I knew I might be in trouble, but there was nothing to do but keep moving. I walked up to the car after 15.5 miles, still happy I had travelled from Ocean Springs to Gulfport on foot in roughly 2.5 hours.
I followed the run with my first ice bath, per KayVee's direction. That means fill a bathtub with enough water to cover your legs, get in, sit down and pour in a bag or two of ice. Grit teeth and chill for 10 minutes. Have yourself removed from bathtub. Drain cold water and return to tub, rinse with hot shower and moan loudly. It really, really works. Legs recover quicker and you don't feel crippled all day and the next.
So for now I'm hoping to stay healthy and positive for the next 6 weeks, train smarter and finish my first marathon with no problems. With the great support I've been getting from Wifeunit and all my friends and family, I just can't imagine anything but a great marathon experience.